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Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on June 2 2016

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Skeptic
  • Birthday 08/18/1959

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  • Website URL
    https://www.ex-christian.net/blogs/blog/208-be-ready-always-to-give-an-answer/

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed once, but seeing how badly that was going to go I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. "Penal substitutionary atonement" refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard. (Explained in this article on theopedia.com.) There are many objections to the doctrine, as noted in the article, not the least among them being that the concept is unjust. Yet proponents have adequate scripture to show that this is how the Christian god was able to forgive sins. I heard a story that illustrates the concept some time ago, and was able to find it on the Internet. It goes like this: The story, even though it's just a story, is repulsive. It's easy to point out why: First, the prescribed punishment is the same regardless of the crime. Second, even if all of the "crimes" were the same, the prescribed punishment is way out of proportion to any of the infractions that it's supposed to apply to. And, finally, although Big Tom is the certainly to be commended for his actions, no justice is done by punishing him. Hence the argument from many theologians that penal substitutionary atonement can't be how Jesus' sacrifice works, because it wouldn't result in justice. But that argument is based on today's sensibilities. Of course you can't punish one person for another's crime! It's not like there's some cosmic imbalance that simply needs to be satisfied -- a crime was committed and the universe won't be right until some punishment has been exacted. We know better than that. The problem is that those who turn to scripture to teach this doctrine are correct. That's actually what the Bible teaches. The linked article mentions these passages (among others): 2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Galatians 3:13 - "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us -- for it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree." And while objectors come up with other hypotheses about how Jesus' death saved people from sins, they have to jump through a lot more hoops to make their points using the Bible, and they have to claim that certain Bible passages don't really mean what they say. But well they should object! As in the illustration about the Virginia school, it isn't only that penal substitutionary atonement is unjust, it's that the "wages of sin" in the Bible far, far exceed any crime that could ever have been committed. In the Bible, one lie told by a 12 year old merits infinite torment -- a literal never ending Hell. It's easy to see that this punishment is unjust, yet when I was a Christian these concepts were just assumed to be obvious. I never heard anyone question them, because just like from childhood we were told that it's obvious the Christian god is real, we were also told that everyone actually deserves to go to Hell. But rather than argue, as some theologians dp, that these concepts can't really be what the Bible is getting at, this is another case where we should just accept the obvious: This is mythology. Some ancient people actually believed these things, they got written down, and due to changing political climates and 2000 years of evolution of the religion which has allowed it to hang on despite humanity's advancement, people still believe them. Because they describe these things as being "just," and we understand today that they are horribly unjust concepts, it should be obvious to us that they aren't true -- that the Bible is obviously not the word of any sort of god.
  2. I think the idea is that blood, or some other type of punishment, is required to correct a wrong, is some sort of ancient idea about things balancing out. With "substitutionary atonement" you have a wrong supposedly being committed ("sin" by each person) and a supposedly "just" god having no choice but to require that punishment be doled out, but it doesn't have to be the guilty party being punished -- it just has to happen to restore balance to the cosmos. Of course, Christians today wouldn't describe it that way, but practically speaking, that's what it is. I don't know exactly how ancient people would have viewed this idea, but today it's repulsive. No matter how much I may be willing to go to prison to pay for the crime of a person I love, that can't happen. Everyone today knows that's wrong, and that justice would not be done if that were allowed. But the claim that Jesus died and paid for the sins of every one who would accept his grace is exactly that -- a "crime" was committed and someone had to be punished; it didn't have to be the guilty party -- it just had to happen. The thing that's so special about Jesus is that he was supposed to have been completely innocent of all crimes or sins, so his complete innocence makes him eligible to stand in for unlimited people all at once. When I was a believer we talked about this requirement that somebody -- anybody -- be punished, as if it just made perfect sense, as if "of course it works that way!" I never heard anybody ask how it served justice. All one has to do is take one step back to see that it makes no sense at all.
  3. Lerk

    Howdy

    You win the "it's never too late" award! Seriously, the meme has evolved over 2000 years to capture and keep adherents. If it weren't for the Internet, it wouldn't be falling apart even today. Hopefully it'll die before it's able to evolve further.
  4. Lerk

    Howdy

    Welcome aboard! You did better than I did. Became a Christian at age 11, believed for 41 years, and have been an atheist for 7.
  5. I don't necessarily disagree with the idea that "the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil." There's a big difference between having enough to be comfortable (and not distressed) and in accumulating money at the expense of other people. The wealthiest people are often (usually?) hoarders. They aren't spending that money on building businesses that produce goods and pay wages -- they simply use their money to make more money, often at the expense of productivity and people. "Trickle-down economics" seemed like a good hypothesis, but when it was tried, the money that wealthy people got to keep in the form of lower taxes never made its way back into the economy. But that doesn't describe the average person who's just trying to get ahead a little bit. Getting ahead a little bit is about security, not greed. And not trying to get ahead a bit turns out to be really irresponsible in the long run. Some day you won't be able to work due to age! Some day you may be out of a job for some time, and will need some savings to survive that period! Of course, as you've discussed before , you're aware that your feelings aren't logical, but you seem to be asking for help overcoming them. I hope my comments have been helpful.
  6. I've been a nonbeliever for about 7 1/2 years, since I was 52. You know, intellectually I know it's silly. I don't know how much of it I was born with and how much is learned. My mother says I was always a "pleaser" so I'm sure part of it is just what I was born with. But having been in a denomination (Non-institutional Churches of Christ) where I was in church for Sunday morning Bible class, Sunday morning assembly, Sunday evening assembly, and Wednesday evening Bible class -- four events per week for most of my life -- the idea that a person mustn't be selfish. must always, always, always think of others first, and must always worry about whether a thing is right or wrong, must have had an effect as well. And I think being married has reinforced this to some extent. (And my wife has the same problem.) Examples: I had a motorcycle for some time. I didn't ride on weekends -- I mostly just commuted on it. And for the first few years, it just made me totally happy to ride the thing, just feeling outside and alive rather than being "in a cage" (as motorcyclists refer to cars). But that joy was contaminated by feeling like I was doing something naughty! I sometimes feel guilty for going to work and leaving my wife home alone. The guilt is because I'd often really rather go to the office. I like my job most of the time! So -- guilty as charged for not preferring to stay home, even though I don't actually have a choice. Both today and when the kids were at home, if I would ever "disappear" from the living room to take care of something that took more than a few minutes, I would feel guilty. This was reinforced by the fact that someone would always come looking for me. This is the learned behavior I'm talking about which may be a result of being married. Like I say, I know it's stupid. It's just a feeling that I've never been able to shake.
  7. I had to look that up: I've never been diagnosed with anything like that, but I definitely have a guilt complex. If I'm enjoying something, I feel like I should be doing something else, or that there must be a reason I should feel guilty about it.
  8. I had to look that up: I've never been diagnosed with anything like that, but I definitely have a guilt complex. If I'm enjoying something, I feel like I should be doing something else, or that there must be a reason I should feel guilty about it.
  9. I've never set goals, really! Oh, I did finish college (after changing my major 3 times), but I've always lived my life a day at a time. And I've always found my "meaning" in my responsibilities. I have work, I have family, and I have things to do. What more meaning do I need? Well, I know what's going on in the world and have discussions about it, and contribute to causes and organizations that I feel are important -- so there's more meaning. I'm thinking more and more about how I'm going to be able to retire (I'm 59 years old) and I should have made that more important many years ago, but even now I wouldn't call it a goal. I need to get as much put away as I can, but I don't really think I want to retire. I just know that I'll have to some day. The meaning in life, I think, just comes along. I have grandchildren and I love to spend time with them. I love having grown-up conversations with my kids and their spouses. I enjoy spending the evenings with my wife, even when it's boring, because we're together. I enjoy listening to music, but not as much as I used to. I listen to podcasts in the car while commuting every day. All of that stuff is just there, but it has meaning. Largely, this day-to-day attitude that I was either born with or picked up somehow has meant that I never thought about Heaven or Hell, and certainly never imagined what they would be like. Apologists sometimes say that without eternity, life is absurd, but I think eternity is every bit as absurd. How can sitting in front of a throne worshiping a deity forever and ever be meaningful? "Meaningful" is making things work, getting things done. Meaningful is enjoying a good meal. Meaningful is enjoying a fast-food meal. Meaningful is laughing with your friends and family. Meaningful is laughing at a TV show or a movie. Meaningful is experiencing anything -- a relationship or a story or anything -- that brings out emotion, happy or sad or just deep. Meaning and purpose are found in the everyday tasks and entertainment and relationships we experience. No ultimate goal is required. In fact, believing that there's an ultimate goal takes away from the true meaning, which is found in the everyday. So I guess you're young and don't have some of those things, but you still have a 24-hour day that's full of meaning. Over time, the meaning changes, but it's there already, every waking hour.
  10. I think I'm close to that day. My son who is a minister isn't questioning belief, but he's seriously questioning the denomination our family have been members of for generations. I actually told him the other day that I had visited an Episcopal church, something I'd not have felt comfortable telling him until recently. True, I'm still not telling him I'm an atheist, but I'm thinking that it won't be too long before that would not hurt our relationship. (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he deconverts, but he isn't close to that yet. He still holds some awfully conservative views, even though he's let go of some.)
  11. I personally have a lot less to say than when I first joined! In fact, I was off of the site for several years. But as things in my life get more "normal" I have less of a feeling of need for camaraderie. I actually got back on 3 years ago when a major upset occurred. But my anecdote is just evidence of the symptom, I suppose. I agree that part of it may be that the need is just less now than a few years ago. Seems like there was a mass-exodus from belief about that time -- a societal shift. Religion is still bleeding members, but the surge is maybe past. So the second part, as some have suggested, is that this type of forum isn't where people turn so much any more.
  12. What was wrong with usenet, dag-nabbit!? I remember being really annoyed when my ISP dropped everything "alt." because, ostensibly, alt. was somehow illegitimate and there was lots of illegal file sharing going on. I was big into alt.autos.corvette at the time. I could get to it on Yahoo! through a web browser, but I really preferred using Outlook Express. It surprises me that people text when they could Skype or Facetime! I do actually text quite a bit, but I do it when the alternative is no contact at all. I text about things I wouldn't bother to call about. Texting has really replaced email in that way. I text a few high-school friends (from the 1970s) whom I had basically lost touch with before Internet email came around. I text my kids, too, when I see something that I think they'd think is interesting or funny. Sometimes a link or photo is involved, or sometimes just a comment, but it's stuff I wouldn't bother to call about. I post to Instagram sparingly, and follow it mostly to see pics of my grandkids. I follow some other folks, too, whom I've never met but who are interested in the same things I am. I started that before I had grandkids, and then went private (but didn't kick people off of my feed) afterward. Facebook -- I got into it when non-college-students were first allowed. Now I'm on it only to keep up with my 2nd and 3rd cousins (I don't have 1st cousins) and moreso because they're interested in how my mother is doing. Once she's gone, I'll probably delete the account. (Hope that didn't come out as callous -- she's on hospice but doing much better than a few months ago, and I know that some of these cousins are interested.) Texting each other in the car does seem rude, though. Like you said, it's like whispering.
  13. Even when I was a believer I never thought about Heaven or what it would be like. I never imagined seeing my grandparents there, or anything like that. And I never worried about winding up in Hell. I guess I don't have much of an imagination. Funny thing is that on TV funerals the preacher used to always say "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." That seems exactly right. I also can't imagine what I might say if I found out I were wrong. Before trying to do that, I'd have to figure out what sort of god I'd be talking to. Surely not the gods in the Bible! (Those gods being Elyon (god most high), Yahweh (one of his sons), and Jesus (grandson of Elyon!). See Deuteronomy 32 in the ESV if you don't know what I'm talking about.)
  14. Welcome aboard, Christopher! So glad you figured it out at your age. I was 52 years old when I realized it was all BS!
  15. Welcome, Dreamer! I know all of that is incredibly hard. When it feels impossible, I hope you can feel encouraged by the fact that your life will be better in the future. I will be better because you realized what was happening at a young enough age, and you had the courage to go through all of this trauma to ensure yourself a better tomorrow. When I read stories like yours, I realize just how real this shit is. I wish you all the best for your life, and am confident that you'll get it by your own strong will! Glad to have you around these parts.
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